Has anybody else here read The Meaning Of Liff? I feel we need a new word to describe that very particular kind of frustration that comes when awaiting an historical death certificate, in the hope of filling a hole in the family tree. Or birth certificate, if you want to be a bit less morbid - it's just that it's mostly been death that I've been investigating of late. I don't know if you've noticed, but our ancestors are especially good at dying. They're almost as good at it as Anton Lesser. Or David Collings.

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself anyway (frustrations notwithstanding). The story so far: My maternal grandmother never knew her father. She knew who he was, but she last set eyes on him when she was about two years old; grew up several thousand miles away, on a different continent; and emigrated to the UK in the forties to find him dead and gone. The fact that she was illegitimate made her unwilling to talk about it all to the rest of us, but my mother has always wanted to know where she comes from. She had no idea where to begin though. Enter the internet, stage right. Armed with an unhelpfully common name, an estimated date of birth (we know he was 25 in July of 1922), and a vague idea of where he was living in 1920 (narrowed down to three counties, probably), I dived in and began to cross-reference. And hit obstacle after obstacle after obstacle! Dates that didn't match, names that changed spelling with the weather. Trails that led nowhere. It was like I was chasing The Man Who Did Not Exist. I was quite sure he and his parents had never filled in a census form, or registered a birth or a marriage. Nothing added up, anywhere.

And then, finally, I caught the little beggar. A wholly unexpected spelling of the surname, found in a wildcard search, a bit of patient checking back through the censuses to see what matched, and presto! Suddenly, in just a few days, the whole family finally fell together. Consequently I've spent the last week buried up to my eyeballs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in a world of penniless, itinerant Irish labourers, centered around Glasgow and the north of England. It's been quite a surprise to look up and see twenty-first century Gloucestershire out of the window.

So, from being Mr Mysterious, my great-grandfather has now coalesced into a fully formed family man, the eldest of nine children. Four of them didn't make it out of childhood. One remains as frustratingly elusive as he himself was last month, and has consequently become my latest obsession. I will find her. In the meantime, I've been able to give my mother a family tree going back to two sets of her great-great grandparents, including an 1860 marriage record for one set. Basically I'm AJ Simon. In a wig, obviously. I think I've probably also gone cross-eyed, and seem to be suffering from some sort of time displacement syndrome. So if I've missed anything major - sorry. It's not easy reading DreamWidth in 1911. I'll do some catching up, if I can coax my brain back to 2018. In the meantime, yay! It's only taken me two years.

Have a good long weekend. :)

PS: If you're looking for any ancestors in Scotland, this site is brill: https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/advanced-search. They certainly have stuff that isn't on findmypast.co.uk, and they don't just have the bmd records uploaded - they have the actual birth, marriage and death certificates, so you can see all the details, without having to wait for the government to send them to you (over one hundred years old only). It costs, but not vast amounts.
swordznsorcery: (Default)
( Dec. 31st, 2016 20:48)
Obligatory end-of-year post. I was going to do the meme that everybody's posting today, but it's got too many questions! I get bored after answering about ten. So instead I'll point you at this rather wonderful 2016 song, which nicely sums up everything we've all been thinking. Not safe for work; but then it probably couldn't have been. It's tempting to hope for better for 2017, but bearing in mind that Trump hasn't even come to power yet, my natural tendency towards optimism is currently feeling a tad wobbly.

2016, then. The good bits. Best telly (other than the mothballed old stuff that I usually watch) has probably been Lucifer. I heartily recommend that one to most of you. Season one was fun last year, but season two has been terrific, and Tom Ellis is a revelation. Here he is (in character) belting out a jazzed up version of All Along The Watchtower.

Best book... I wish I could say the final Temeraire, but it seemed a bit of a damp squib, somehow. Mind you, my expectations were probably set a bit high. Instead I think I'll go with The Tyrannosaur Chronicles by Dave Hone, because tyrannosaurs. Basically he wrote the book I've been wanting since I was about four. Now all I need is for somebody to write similar ones for all the other types of dinosaur! And Dimetrodon while they're at it. And listen! The first fireworks of the evening.

Best music is an awkward one, as I don't listen to much modern stuff. Lee Mead put out a new album earlier this year, called Some Enchanted Evening, which I like a lot. Nice to see him doing some old standards, as he always was good at them. And Holly Johnson had a new single out this year called Ascension, which was good. Even if did come from the Eddie the Eagle film. (Sorry, I grew up in Cheltenham. I have an Eddie the Eagle allergy.)

Best film is another awkward one. Pretty sure I've only seen one 2016 film this year, which was the live action (well, mostly CGI, actually) remake of The Jungle Book. Fortunately I absolutely loved it, which is just as well, as I guess it wins by default. Trailer here.

Looking back at my list, I see that the first book I read in 2016 was Immortal In Death by JD Robb. Sounds frighteningly prescient for the year that was to follow, so if all of that was in any way my fault, I apologise! Last book of the year was Is There Life Outside The Box? by Peter Davison. Less murder, more jokes. Also, a special pair of sentences for you, [personal profile] thisbluespirit! On page 196: "I was keen to make The Last Detective; it reminded me of a show I'd watched as a teenager called Public Eye that starred Alfred Burke. With its easy pace and gentle humour and world-weary central character, it had been a success for many years." (Yeah, he's not in love with punctuation. Sorry about that. ;) The index, however, is a thing of beauty.) But see! All you need to do is abduct Peter Davison, and extract the missing episodes from his brain! This is a faultless plan for 2017.

Um. And I shall leave it there. Happy 2017, everybody. Let's try to keep the NHS; try to stop Trump inadvertently starting a nuclear war with China via Twitter; and, I don't know. Hope that Trump takes his head off, and reveals that he was Hillary Clinton all along? Well, it's a thought.

See you in January.
It's been a pretty rubbish week, hasn't it! We accidentally broke Britain, we accidentally broke Europe, we accidentally broke the national - and possibly the international - economy. We also appear to have broken both the Government and the Opposition, meaning that the country is currently being run by Larry, the Prime Minister's cat. And as if that wasn't enough, we made Nigel Farage happy. Oh Britain. If there are any world leaders reading this: this is what happens when you ask ordinary people to make your extremely complex economic and political decisions for you, when all they have to inform them is the media. Anyway. Beneath the cut is a five minute video from an American comedy series, and trust me, you need it in your life right now. Sarcasm, with added Tennant and Capaldi.

Click! )

Never have I missed Drop The Dead Donkey more.
swordznsorcery: (queen)
( Jun. 20th, 2016 19:22)
Because it made me laugh, and because heaven knows we could all (well, those of us in Europe, anyway) do with a little lightening of spirit of late, re: this blasted referendum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRxy8dcTaQQ (NSFW, pro-remain video).

Most of you have probably seen it already, as it's been doing the rounds all day, but whatever. Incidentally, I also recommend the #CatsAgainstBrexit tag on Twitter, if you like cats with your (not especially deep) political commentary. I see that mine have been at it. I wasn't aware that they knew how to type, but they do like to surprise us.



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